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Tuna confit is really homemade 'canned' tuna
Ever wonder how they make canned tuna? Preserved tuna is an ancient art, perfected by the Italians thousands of years ago. Even today, the finest canned tuna comes from Italy and Spain. Commercial canners often steam their albacore -- which is the primary species used in canned tuna -- but you will get a far more luxurious result if you slowly poach it in olive oil, a process the French call confit.
First start with high-quality albacore or yellowfin tuna. You can do this with other kinds of... tuna, too, and mako shark, halibut, swordfish or sturgeon also work very well. Cut the fish into large chunks about an inch thick, then salt them well.
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Prepping the Oil
Start the process by getting your oil ready. Basically, you want to infuse it with flavor and cook it long enough to make the oil stable.
I add the following to 3 cups of olive oil:
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 T. kosher salt
- 2 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- Zest of a lemon, sliced into strips
- 1 whole clove
Heat the oil slowly over medium heat until you begin to see the herbs just start to simmer. The temperature should be about 160 degrees. Hold this temperature for about 15 minutes, then... turn off the heat and cover the pot.
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Cooking the Fish
Once the oil has cooled, about 30 minutes, turn the heat back on to medium and heat the oil to 150 degrees.
Slip in the fish and arrange it in one layer. The fish must be completely covered.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot again. Let the fish steep in the oil for another half-hour to 45 minutes.
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Storing the Fish
After the fish has steeped in the hot oil for 30-45 minutes, take it out and put into a clean plastic or glass container.
Let the oil cool to room temperature, then strain it through a piece of cheesecloth and use it to cover the fish. Make sure you do not include any liquid that the fish gave off during cooking. You want only the oil covering the fish.
Covered this way (use more clean oil if there is not enough), the fish will last in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.
If you want it to last longer,... you must pressure-can it in a steam canner. Follow your canner's instructions.